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Restorative Justice Recognized

Restorative Justice Recognized

Concord Mediation Center’s Restorative Justice practices were recognized statewide recently.

Nebraska Supreme Court Chief Justice Michael Heavican, in his State of the Judiciary Speech on Thursday, January 17, noted the restorative justice efforts for juvenile offenders. Heavican noted, “This model is called Victim Youth Conferencing. Victim Youth Conferencing involves the convening of a meeting, conducted by a trained professional, between low-risk delinquents and the victim(s) of their wrong-doing. During this process, emphasis is placed on reparations for the victim(s), and appropriate rehabilitation for juvenile offenders. Use of the Victim Youth Conferencing program considerably reduces the odds of recidivism of juveniles and the odds of future involvement in the adult criminal system.”

“The Office of Dispute Resolution received a grant of over $1 million for a 3-year period to expand juvenile restorative justice services to interested counties statewide. Some of the early participating counties include Buffalo, Dodge, Douglas, Lancaster, Pawnee, Red Willow, Sarpy, and Scotts Bluff,” said Heavican. Concord Mediation Center serves Douglas and Sarpy Counties.

Heavican said the Victim Youth Conferencing program “has been evaluated by outside academics. These academics noted the successful rate of reparations to victims and the positive responses of both victims and juvenile participants.”

Concord Mediation Center provides Victim Youth Conferencing services. Contact the center for more information.

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The Neuroscience of Conflict

The Neuroscience of Conflict

What happens in our brains when we fight, argue and quarrel?

The Neuroscience of Conflict

Conflict exists when one person has a need of another person and that need is not
being met. Conflict between people is a normal, natural and inevitable part of life. If we
feel anxious, angry or threatened, our brains default to a “fight or flight” physiological

The study of the relationship between our nervous system and our brain is called
neuroscience. What happens in our brain when we sense conflict? When faced with
conflict, it’s good to know how the brain works so we can work to override negative
patterns based upon our experiences. (This is called “neuroplasticity,” and it’s the ability
to make new neural connections.)

When we become angry, the amyglada, part of the limbic system in our brain, is
Inundated with hormones such as cortisol, adrenaline and testosterone. In effect, we
become “high” on conflict.

If we’re shown acknowledgment and feel that we’re heard, the front or neocortex part of
the brain, which is responsible for higher thinking and reasoning, is flooded with
serotonin, oxytocin and dopamine. These are hormones that are released when we
experience trust and respect.

When you recognize the initial stages of fight or flight. Dr. Kenneth Miller, Ph.D.,
suggests a pause. “Before you respond in a conversation, take a breath. Just a normal
simple breath.” Why does this work? First, Miller notes, it stops you from accidentally
interrupting whoever’s speaking. Second, the pause gives you a chance to reconsider
your own response. You might even decide to say nothing at all.

Once you have paused and taken a breath, use active listening techniques to help the
other person connect with his or her neocortex. Pay attention. Restate or paraphrase
what the other person has said. Summarize. Don’t interrupt. Empathize. Validate the
other person, indicating “I appreciate your willingness to talk about this difficult issue” or
“You seem angry about this situation.” Always respond respectfully.

Avoid fight or flight responses — genuine, active listening skills can be used the next
time you feel angry, to help diffuse conflict.

Welcome Dan Bechtol, New Executive Director

Welcome Dan Bechtol, New Executive Director


Dan Bechtol is the new Executive Director at Concord Mediation Center.

Bechtol brings extensive experience in mediation, facilitation and training to this role, as well as administrative, policy development and program development.

He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Law, Politics and Society (LPS) and Sociology from Drake University (IA) and earned his Master’s Degree in Conflict Resolution and Reconciliation from Abilene Christian University (TX). In addition to court mediation experience and volunteer time with CASA, Bechtol’s most recent position included the formation and co-direction of a mediation service agency in southwest Iowa.

Concord Mediation Center serves people experiencing conflict within the home, at work or in the community, creating a safe place for difficult conversations. Mediation provides an alternative to the legal system for people to seek justice and resolve their issues. Since 1999, Concord Mediation Center has provided exceptional service in mediation, facilitation and conflict resolution training. A non-profit agency, the center serves both Sarpy and Douglas Counties.

Retribution vs. Restoration

Retribution vs. Restoration

Restorative Justice is an option for juvenile offenders

Retribution vs. Restoration

Did you know the cost of one teen spending one year in a detention center is the equivalent of two to three years’ tuition at an Ivy League school?

Did you realize that you and other taxpayers are footing the bill for juvenile offenders’ incarceration?

Aside from the direct costs of incarcerating juveniles – such as the funds required for operating detention facilities – taxpayers pay in the long term as well in the form of lost future earnings, lost tax revenue and other ripple effects that the Justice Policy Institute estimates costs state and local governments nationwide somewhere between $8 billion and $21 billion annually. Per U.S. News & World Report

When a juvenile is sentenced to jail or a detention center, this is an example of “retributive or punitive” justice. Punitive justice is the traditional system of dealing with those who are charged with a crime, based on the punishment of offenders, rather than on rehabilitation.

There is an alternative when a youth commits a crime: Restorative Justice

Because relationships are at the heart of Restorative Justice, the process enables everyone affected by the crime to play a part in repairing the harm and finding a positive way forward.

Studies show that Restorative Justice reduces crime victims’ post- traumatic stress symptoms and the victims’ desire for revenge against the offender.

Victims report satisfaction that justice has been done when they have a voice in the process.

Offenders have insights as to how their actions affected others; not just the direct victims, but victims’ spouses, children, parents and the community.

When members of the community participate in the Restorative Justice
process, they play a part in helping to restore trust, demonstrating empathy for others and assist in rebuilding public safety.

Restorative Justice has also shown to reduce repeat offending for some offenders and helps reduce the costs of criminal justice.

The Restorative Justice process, offered by Concord Mediation Center:

  • provides victims with an opportunity to tell their story, address the harm caused and find answers to questions that are important to them;
  • provides offenders with an opportunity to take responsibility for their actions and to be held accountable by those they harmed; and,
  • empowers communities to gain a better understanding of the root causes of crime and allow the community to express and reduce its fears.

Healing begins with Restorative Justice.

The balance of trust, rebuilding relationships and community safety begins with restoration. When the victim, the offender and members of the community come together in the Restorative Justice process, the healing process begins, as each party sees the other as a human being.

For more information, contact Concord Mediation Center at 402-345-1131 or email us at

Focus on Children

Focus on Children

Divorcing Parents: Put Your Child’s Needs Ahead of Your Own

“It’s like when something you really love breaks and you can’t put it back together.”

“When my parents are fighting, I feel like I have to be the peacemaker.”

“Sometimes, I feel that it’s my fault my mom moved out.”

These are actual statements made by children talking about their parents’ divorce, in the documentary film “Divorce Through Kids’ Eyes.”

This video is featured in Concord Mediation Center’s “What About the Child” class. The Parenting class is designed to explore the life-changing and at times,frightening, separation of children’s parents.

January is Child-Centered Divorce Month, and we encourage all parents to act and behave in their child’s best interests.

When you focus on what is best for your kids and not what is self-serving nor turns out to be retribution toward your former partner, you will have a child-centered divorce.

The most powerful action divorcing parents can take to protect their children is to pledge not to expose them to adult conversations, adult situations or adult arguments.

Simple Exercise for ALL parents, married or divorced

The next time you are about
to get into an argument with the other parent,
do this:

Take out a photo of your children
or create a mental picture of your kids.
Look at those sweet, innocent faces
and repeat the following:

“I know that what I am about to do
is damaging to you and
may affect you forever.

But at this moment,

Is it more important to
indulge my anger
than focus on
your well-being?”

Contact us at 402-345-1131 in Douglas County, 402-345-2252 in Sarpy County, or email us at: for more information.

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How Your Donation Helps

How Your Donation Helps

Making a Difference in the Lives of Children, Families and Communities

How Your Donation Helps

A child can sleep more peacefully, no longer anxious about where he’ll lay his head to rest on which nights…
The child’s parents mediated a Parenting Plan at Concord Mediation Center. This plan will provide specifics for parenting their children from two homes now, instead of one.

An elderly couple can go about their daily routine, no longer feeling like they were targets of vandals who spray painted angry words on their garage…
The retired couple met with one of the vandals during a Victim Youth Conference at Concord Mediation Center, learning that the act of vandalism was random. The teenager involved learned about the impact his behavior had on others and agreed to reimburse the couple for their clean-up efforts.

Members of a corporate board of directors finish their annual planning retreat facilitated by Concord Mediation Center, confident in the knowledge that each viewpoint was heard and validated, and that the company’s future is secure for another year…
The company’s leaders were pleased to work with a professional facilitator for their meeting, arranged through Concord Mediation Center. The business’s accounting department was happy that this process was both time- and cost-effective.

Adult siblings can work together via a facilitated meeting regarding their mother’s skilled nursing needs, having cleared the air over old arguments and perceived slights…
The brother and sister sat down with trained facilitators at Concord Mediation Center and created a plan for their aging parent’s care, putting their mother’s needs above their own.


Last year, Concord Mediation Center worked with people just like those noted above – people in Sarpy and Douglas Counties – people who are experiencing conflict.

The non-profit agency works with people involved in:

  • parenting plan mediations,
  • victim youth conferences,
  • workplace conflicts,
  • elder care mediation,
  • small claims court disputes,
  • consumer-merchant issues,
  • special education concerns,
  • child abuse/child welfare cases, and
  • landlord-tenant disagreements.

This equates to hundreds of individuals who will sleep more peacefully tonight.

When you donate to Concord Mediation Center, we can continue to help children, families and communities. Many of our clients report low- to no-incomes. But we provide services, regardless of a client’s ability to pay. Your generous donations help subsidize the cost of services.

Since 1999, Concord Mediation Center has provided alternative dispute resolution services. These services can be less adversarial, more time- and cost-effective than those involving the legal system and can help ease the caseloads of our over-burdened courts.

We invite you to donate now, at

Thank you in advance for your support of this important cause!

Best wishes to you and yours during the holiday season!

Celebrate Mediation

Celebrate Mediation

Mediation Week, Conflict Resolution Day Observed in October


Let’s Celebrate Mediation!

A struggle or disagreement between people is known as a conflict, which comes from the Latin word conflingere. Conflingere means “to come together for a battle.” Conflicts can turn into multi-nation battles, but they can also occur in our home, at our office, in our school and in the community. Conflicts arise because there are needs, values or ideas that are seen to be different among people.

Since we human beings don’t always see eye to eye on things, conflict is a part of life. Yet, you can learn ways to manage conflict and diminish its harmful effects. Mediation is an alternative conflict resolution process, and it is being celebrated this month, during the American Bar Association’s (ABA) “Mediation Week,” October 15 through 21.

According to the ABA, over the last few decades the field of alternative dispute resolution has grown tremendously. The ABA recognizes that not all cases are well suited for the adversarial process and that there are multiple paths to justice, a thought that is increasingly shared by attorneys, judges and the public.

The ABA Mediation Week initiative, with the theme “Mediation, Civility and the Power of Understanding,” is a celebration of the strides undertaken to make mediation one of several appropriate dispute resolution processes.

Continuing this recognition of peaceful conflict resolution practices worldwide, the Association for Conflict Resolution (ACR) named Thursday, October 19, as “Conflict Resolution Day.” ACR designated the third Thursday of each October, starting in 2005, as an opportunity to:

  • Promote awareness of mediation, arbitration, conciliation and other creative, peaceful means of resolving conflict;
  • Promote the use of conflict resolution in schools, families, businesses, communities, governments and the legal system;
  • Recognize the significant contributions of peaceful conflict resolvers (including the trained staff and affiliates at Concord Mediation Center!); and
  • Obtain national synergy by having celebrations across the country and around the world on the same day.

This month, dedicated dispute resolution practitioners are helping to educate the public about mediation and other innovative conflict management processes. The ABA and ACR, as well as numerous other organizations, are working to raise awareness of the importance of mediation and conflict resolution.

How Can You Celebrate Mediation?

We encourage you to learn more about the processes of mediation, facilitation and conflict resolution education by visiting our website, You are also invited to “friend” us on Facebook, for ongoing mediation insights as well as inspiring messages of peace.

Business Trainings Coming Soon!

We are planning a series of workshops for businesses, teaching managers and supervisors about conflict, how to deal with it effectively and learn more about how Concord Mediation Center can customize programs to help your business succeed! More details to come!

Announcement-ODR Approval-New Board Members


September 22, 2017 – Omaha, Nebraska – Concord Mediation Center has received approval from the Office of Dispute Resolution and announced new members of its Board of Directors.

Nebraska’s Office of Dispute Resolution (ODR), part of Nebraska’s Judicial Branch, was created as part of the 1991 Dispute Resolution Act, which also created the six regional mediation centers. ODR gave approval to Concord Mediation Center, founded in 1999, to continue to serve as the approved mediation center for Douglas and Sarpy Counties during its annual ODR Advisory Committee meeting in Lincoln on August 18.

Mediation is available in all 93 counties of Nebraska and is a helpful problem solving process that empowers disputing parties to prioritize and express their wants and needs in order to arrive at a mutual agreement.

At Concord Mediation Center’s Board of Director’s annual meeting, new Board members were announced and officers were elected. New Board members are:

  • Greg London, Deputy Sheriff, Sarpy County Sheriff Department
  • Kristi Gibbs, Head of School, Brownell Talbot School
  • Mark Draper, Consultant to the Nebraska Department of Education

These new members join the existing Board members, including:

Board President – Pat Bourne, Vice President, AON
Vice President – Annie Bird, Community Leader/Volunteer
Secretary – Andy Rikli, Superintendent, Papillion LaVista Community Schools
Treasurer – Ron Volkmer, Professor of Law Emeritus, Creighton University
Cindy Ellis, M.D., Professor of Pediatrics and Psychiatry, Munroe-Meyer Institute, University of Nebraska Medical Center
Elizebeth Murphy, President, Emspace Group
Tom Richards, Manager – Governmental Affairs and Community Relations, Omaha Public Power District

Concord Mediation Center, a non-profit organization, delivers exceptional service in mediation, facilitation and education/training in conflict resolution. The trained staff and mediators specialize in peaceful, forward-thinking, innovative methods to manage personal or professional disputes. Mediation is a voluntary, informal dispute settlement option that can be an alternative to litigation. Concord Mediation Center provides access to problem solving processes regardless of a client’s ability to pay.

“Conflict is a part of each of our personal and professional lives. Sadly, most people consider the only resolution to conflict is when one party is perceived as the ‘winner’ and the other as the ‘loser.’ Mediators work with the disputing parties to explore creative ways of approaching a problem to produce outcomes that satisfy both parties needs and interests. As a result, the parties are more likely to comply with the agreed upon resolution, as they both had ‘buy in’ to the creation of the plan,” says Concord Mediation Center Executive Director Cindy Tierney, M.Ed.

“The work we do at Concord Mediation Center is as relevant as ever. As part of our mediation, facilitation and education/training services, we continue to work with child welfare agencies, the courts and other service organizations to support children, families, businesses and communities. We are committed to finding new and creative ways to advance our outreach efforts, to bring peaceful conflict solving processes to the people in our service area,” notes Tierney.

“We are fortunate to have dedicated community and business leaders who serve on our Board. The Board’s main objective is to ensure our agency keeps its promises as described in our mission statement – ‘Concord Mediation Center creates pathways of constructive dialogue and conflict resolution through consensus building activities of mediation, facilitation and education’ – and that we are accountable for the way we do business. We are excited to have new Board members who bring enthusiasm and unique experiences to the table. The Board is focused on ensuring the organization provides effective and quality mediation services in a cost-effective manner to the people of Douglas and Sarpy Counties,” Tierney adds.

Members of the Board of Directors consist of leaders in the fields of education, business, law enforcement and marketing who volunteer their time and expertise on behalf of Concord Mediation Center.

Parents, School Come Together in Spec Ed Mediation

Parents, School Come Together in Spec Ed Mediation

Parents, School Come Together in Special Education Mediation

Special education mediation is a process in which a mediator helps families with a special needs child and school district personnel work together to create and implement a free, appropriate education.

The mediator is a third-party, neutral person who will help the participants come to a mutually satisfactory agreement. Mediators are trained not to offer opinions or solutions to the issues in dispute but rather to focus on assisting parties to hear one another’s concerns, identify common interests and seek out creative, mutually agreeable resolutions.

A mediated dialogue can take place at any point in the student’s education. This includes issues during the identification of a child in need of special education, to conflicts between parents and teachers or school principals, to questions regarding the child’s Individualized Education Plan (IEP), which is geared to a child’s learning needs and abilities. If the parents and educators are unable to work out the dispute themselves and a formal complaint is made, mediation is also a part of due process.

Why Should You Consider Special Education Mediation?

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) created a law that promises every child with a disability a “free appropriate public education,” which means individualized special education and related services designed to meet a child’s unique needs.

However, each school district may have its own plans, tools and curriculum to meet those needs. And parents may disagree with the school’s plan.

Parents may have concerns they feel are not being addressed, and mediation is one option available to them and the school district. Parties may request mediation because they are committed to mending damaged relationships, but feel the need for a third party, such as a mediator, to help.

“Special education mediation has been promoted as a valuable process, in part, because of its promise for resolving such conflicts in a way that prevents the escalation of adversarial relationships and fosters norms of collaboration among parents and schools,” note Branda L. Nowell and Deborah A. Salem, in the professional publication “Remedial and Special Education.”

Jane R. Wettach, Clinical Professor of Law, Duke Law School and Director of Duke Children’s Law Clinic, wrote in “Preparing for Special Education Mediation and Resolution Sessions,” that successful mediation participants are:

  • Mentally ready, open to fresh thinking, willing to entertain new ideas and prepared to see others’ points of view;
  • Open to seeing people in a new light;
  • Optimistic about resolving the situation;
  • Willing to accept some level of compromise;
  • Willing to accept someone else’s proposal;
  • Respectful of the school district personnel’s time/money/need to take other children into account;
  • Able to assume that all parties are operating in good faith, want to see the child make progress and will carry out agreements.

Tips for success in mediation

“Everyone should be encouraged to go beyond conventional thinking, offer ideas to the other participants in the negotiations and be open to suggestions from them,” noted Wettach. “Everyone should work hard to avoid criticizing new ideas prematurely. The goal is to broaden rather than eliminate options. Everyone should strive for mutual gain. Certainly, everyone in the special education process benefits when the students and teachers are successful and behavior problems are reduced.”

Special Education Mediation service at no cost

Concord Mediation Center has a contract with Nebraska’s Department of Education to provide special education mediation at NO COST to the parties involved.

If you have questions regarding special education mediation, please call us at 402-345-1131 .

Encourage Civility

Encourage Civility

National Win With Civility Month

Encourage Civility at Work and in Your Community

“Civility” is more than just being polite to others. Civility is the way you conduct yourself when faced with rude, thoughtless or combatant people – especially when others have differing views or opinions than yours.

Civility has eroded in the last few years, reported 70 percent of respondents of a 2015 Customer Service Group study. It seems too many of us display a lack of cooperation or even simple common courtesy.

August is “National Win With Civility Month,” and this observance reminds us to treat customers, coworkers, family, neighbors and others with courtesy and respect.

The old phrase, “You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar,” may sound outdated, but the underlying notion still holds true. (Though, who wants to catch flies?) The idea is that you are more likely to get what you want with a genuinely pleasant, collaborative demeanor rather than with a harsh attitude.

Positive Mediation Outcomes

When you have a disagreement with another party that you are unable to resolve on your own, mediation is an option.

If you and/or the other party are utilizing ineffective communication tools when discussing possible resolutions, such as raised voices, inappropriate language, pointing fingers, interrupting, making faces, being sarcastic or shutting down completely, the opportunity to work with a professional mediator is a great avenue to consider.

When you enter into the mediation process, civility is an approach that can enhance your chances for a win-win outcome. This means coming to the table with the other party in a positive frame of mind. Acting in a civil manner means you will listen respectfully to the other party, you’ll state your relevant issues clearly and you’ll be open to negotiation.

Maintain Professionalism at Work with Civility

Civility can be just as important – and effective – at the workplace. “Healthy work relationships cannot live with distrust, nor without civility,” notes Ty Howard, former professional football player and motivational speaker.

Most people are more productive in a healthy work environment. This doesn’t mean there won’t be disagreements. In fact, disagreements can open the door to constructive discussions on ways to improve upon work processes. As Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor said, “It’s possible to disagree without being disagreeable.”

How can you help create a more respectful, civil and productive workplace?

  • Start small. Change your tone of voice or physical stance. You may not realize how you are coming across to others. Simple changes could make you seem more approachable, flexible and a good team player.
  • Listen. Focus on being a good listener and acknowledging what the other person is saying. (Instead of listening intently, most people spend time thinking about what they are going to say instead of actually hearing the other speaker.)
  • Be polite. Use kind words and behave by using your best manners.
  • Maintain calm. You may be tempted to get defensive when an associate is critical or rude. Remaining patient and staying calm will help you stay above the fray.
  • Find the “good” in others. It is unlikely you will get along with everyone at the office. But if you keep this positive trait in mind when interacting with a difficult person, you may be able expand your perspective of this person or at least maintain civility.
  • Serve as an example. When you don’t see eye-to-eye with an associate, remember to maintain civility. Don’t seek battles with co-workers just so you can be “right” about a topic. If others feel confident in voicing their opinions, everyone is more likely to work toward “the greater good,” knowing that the group effort will benefit everyone.

Contact Concord Mediation Center at 402-345-1131 when you need assistance in resolving issues with others, while maintaining civility.

Do You Know the Cost of Workplace Conflict?

Stay tuned for information about our upcoming “Lunch And Learns,” designed to help managers, supervisors and employees understand conflict and learn new skills to maintain office morale and productivity!